Gov. Rick Scott accused of pandering to gain Hispanic vote
By Derek Joy
After more than 10 months without a Lieutenant Governor, Florida Governor Rick Scott finally made a choice.
Scott visited Miami last week and appointed Miami Dade County Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a former Re-publican leader in the Florida State Legislature.
Lopez-Cantera became Florida’s first Hispanic Lieutenant Governor. He replaces Jennifer Carroll, the first Black American Lieutenant Governor, who re-signed after the charitable organization she consulted for was hit with federal fraud charges.
“What’s important is to have a great lieutenant governor. The fact he’s so good is important to me,” Scott was quoted as saying in a Miami Herald story, while lauding Lopez-Cantera’s skills as former legislator, local government official and small business owner.
Some questioned whether or not that the case with others Scott sought as potential suitors who rejected his appointment overtures. And others simply saw it as pandering to win the Hispanic vote in his re-election bid.
Surely, Scott found others who are equally as astute in business and politics as Lopez-Cantera.
“He has the right to chose,” said Opa locka Mayor Lady Myra Taylor. “It might be a strategic move to get the Hispanic vote. And we all use that move.”
Resonating in the Black American community is the perception that Scott is doing what he has to win re-election.
“He needs the Hispanic vote. He needs every vote he can get to win,” said Rudean Tucker Henderson of Northwest Miami Dade County.
June Small Garvin, a long time Miami resident who now lives in Brevard County, said: “He’s (Scott) is fighting for his job.”
Added Marguerite Bivins-Moseley, a Miami resident: “He (Scott) is trying to get the Cubans to support him in getting re-elected.”
That is precisely what the overwhelming opinion in the Black American community is regarding Scott’s appointment of Lopez-Cantera as lieutenant governor.
“You know what that was for,” asked long time Miami resident Mack Finnie, who replied, “That’s for his (Scott) re-election.”
Like it or not, it is a strategic move or Scott’s part.
Hispanics account for some 60-percent or more of Miami Dade County’s population. And it has been proven time and time again that winning a state-wide election is extremely difficult, if not impossible, without winning Miami Dade County.
Moreover, the Hispanic population in South Florida’s four counties of Broward, Miami Dade, Monroe and Palm, is substantial.
On the other hand, having Lopez-Cantera as Lieutenant Governor does not guarantee winning the Hispanic vote. Some Hispanics are still annoyed with the Republican Party for its lack of action on immigration reform, among other is-sues.
Not only Hispanics, but those in other ethnic groups, speculate as to whether or not Lopez-Cantera’s rather conservative history will favor Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross winning public monies to renovate Sun Life Stadium.
That is an even more of a hot button issue since Ross recently donated $200-million of his money to his alma mater, the University of Michigan. And that is about the amount Ross needs in public funding to renovate Sun Life Stadium that was originally built by the late Joe Robbie without public monies.
“I think it was one of the most brilliant strategic moves Scott could have made, said the Rev. Dr. James Bush III. “He did a 360 degree slam dunk. I didn,’t know he could jump that high.
“But I can say this about Lopez-Cantera: He’s extremely capable, very articulate, well qualified. I worked with him in the Legislature. And when you think about he left state office and won a countywide election speaks volumes.
“If he can win that many votes for them in November that gives Scott a leg up on Charlie Crist or whomever the Democratic nominee may be. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll win. But it makes the other guys make moves and adjust their strategy.”